In some kingdom there lived a rich merchant. Once his beloved wife died and left him with three daughters. The old man wanted to engage a servant but his youngest daughter, Marya said, "You needn't engage a servant, I can do all housework by myself."
So, Marya began to keep house. She could do everything: cook, clean up the house, launder and succeeded in her work. The old man loved his youngest daughter most of all. She was so beautiful, clever and hardworking whereas her sisters were greedy, envious and ugly. They spent their days trying on their dresses, whitening their faces and putting on rouge but they were never satisfied or pleased with what they had.
One day the merchant was about to go to the market and asked his daughters what he could buy for them.
"Buy us each a beautiful shawl, made of the finest silk, with large golden flowers," said the two older daughters. Marya was standing nearby keeping silence. The old man came to her and asked what present she would like to get.
"Buy me the bright feather of Finist the Falcon, dear father," replied the girl. The merchant went to the market and returned that evening. He brought the shawls for his daughters but couldn't find the feather of Finist the Falcon.
Some time later, the merchant again prepared to go to the market, and asked his daughters what presents would please them. "Buy us each boots with silver heelplates," said the older daughters. And Marya again ordered the feather of Finist the Falcon.
The whole day the old man was wandering in the market. He bought the boots for his older daughters but again couldn't find the feather of Finist the Falcon. So, he had to come back home without a present for his beloved daughter Marya.
Some time passed and again the merchant was about to go to the market. He asked his daughters what they wished for this time. "Buy us each a beautiful dress," said the older daughters.
The old man turned to Marya and asked: "And what do you wish me to bring to you, my little girl?"
"Bring me the feather of Finist the Falcon, dear father."
In the market the merchant bought beautiful dresses but again couldn't find the feather of Finist the Falcon. He left the town and met a little old man on his way home. "Good day, grandfather!" said the merchant.
"Good day to you, my good man. Where are you going?"
"I am going home, to my native village. The only trouble is that I haven't managed to find a present for my youngest daughter. She asked me to bring her the feather of Finist the Falcon."
"I have the feather you need. This feather is magic, but I am glad to help such a good and honest man like you are. Please, take the feather!"
The old man took the feather out of his pocket and gave it to the merchant. The magic feather looked like an ordinary feather; there was nothing special in it. The old man was very surprised at how his beloved daughter Marya wanted to get it with such persistence. That evening he came home and brought the presents to his daughters. The two older sisters smartened themselves up into their new beautiful dresses and mocked Marya, "You have always been a silly! Stick your feather in your hair and stand in beauty!"
Marya didn't say a word. At midnight, when everybody in the house was sleeping soundly, she took the feather, threw it on the floor and said, "Come to me, Finist my own dear love!"
As soon as the girl pronounced these words, a young, handsome lad appeared before her. They spent the hours together until dawn broke and light came through the window. When the rays of the sun shone into the chamber, the lad struck the floor and turned into a falcon. Marya opened the window and the falcon soared up into the blue sky. For three nights she made him welcome thus. During the day Finist flew about in the blue heavens in the guise of a falcon; when night fell he flew back to Marya and turned into a handsome lad.
On the fourth day the wicked sisters noticed a strange falcon that every night entered Marya's chamber. They related this circumstance to their father. "You'd better look after your own behavior!" grumbled the merchant.
The older sisters couldn't reconcile themselves to the fact that Marya didn't let them into her secrets. They stuck rows of sharp knives around the window to Marya's chamber. When the night fell, Finist the Falcon flew up to the window, but couldn't get through the knives placed around the window. He beat against the pane until his breast and wings were cut and bleeding. But the girl was sleeping soundly and didn't hear him.
And then Finist the Falcon said, "If you need me you will find me. But it won't be easy. You shall not find me until you have worn out three pairs of iron shoes, broken three iron walking sticks, and torn three iron caps."
Suddenly, Marya awoke and heard these words. She jumped out of bed and looked out of the window. The falcon had already flown away leaving only a bloody spot on the window. The girl began to cry bitterly as she didn't want to part with Finist the Falcon. She went to her father and said: "My dear father, don't be angry with me! I must leave you, and go on a long and difficult journey. If I live, we will meet again; if I die, then it must be so! Please, let me go!"
The old man didn't want to let his beloved daughter leave him but he couldn't dissuade her. Marya immediately went to a smithy and had three pairs of iron shoes, three iron walking sticks and three iron caps forged for her. She put on the first pair of iron shoes and the first iron cap, took the first iron walking stick in her hand and then she set out in the direction from whence the falcon had come.
The girl walked for miles and miles, through the dark forests, crossed many fields and rivers, and climbed over tall mountains. The birds cheered her heart with their songs, she refreshed herself in the clear sparkling waters of the brooks; all the wild beasts--wolves, bears and foxes--came flocking to her.
On and on she trudged. At last the first pair of iron shoes wore out, the first iron cap tore and the first iron walking stick broke. Suddenly she came to a clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing was a hut on chicken's legs, spinning around and around. "Little hut, little hut, turn your back to the forest and your face to me. Let me come in to eat and warm myself," whispered Marya.
The hut turned to her and the girl went inside. There she saw the witch Baba Yaga stretched out on the stove, her long nose was pointing towards the ceiling. "What are you doing here?" asked Baba-Yaga.
"I am searching for Finist the Bright Falcon."
"Well," said Baba-Yaga, "Finist the Falcon is far from here. You will have to pass through the thrice-nine lands to the thrice-ninth kingdom to find him. The Tsaritsa of this kingdom is a wicked sorceress who gave him a love-portion to drink. But don't worry, I will help you. Take this silver saucer and this golden egg. When you come to the thrice-ninth kingdom, ask the wicked Tsaritsa to be her servant. When you finish your work, take the silver saucer and put the golden egg on it. The egg will roll on the saucer by itself. If the Tsaritsa wishes to buy it, don't sell it to her, but ask her to let you see Finist the Falcon."
The girl thanked Baba-Yaga and set out again on her journey. She entered the dark forest, which frightened her greatly. Suddenly, a black cat jumped in front of her and said, "Don't be afraid, it will be more frightening farther on, but you must go on and not look back."
The cat rubbed against her legs and ran away. The girl went further and further into the dark forest. She wore out the second pair of iron shoes, tore the second iron cap and broke the second iron walking sick. Suddenly she came to a clearing where a little hut stood on chicken's legs. Around the hut was a fence and on each post was a glowing skull. Marya said, "Little hut, little hut, turn your back to the forest and your face to me. Let me come in to eat and warm myself."
The hut turned to her and the girl entered it. There inside she found Baba-Yaga. Her nose was as long as a poker. "Where have you come from and where are you going?" she asked.
"I am searching for Finist the Falcon." replied the girl.
"Have you visited my sister?"
"Yes Granny, I have."
"Very well then, my beauty, I will help you. Take this golden needle and this silver frame. The needle embroiders on crimson velvet with treads of gold and silver by all by itself. Remember this one thing: if the Tsaritsa wishes to buy these things don't sell them, but ask her to let you see Finist the Falcon."
The girl thanked Baba-Yaga and went on her way. Thunder and lightning struck the dark forest. The skulls on the fence-posts were shining brightly. Marya was very terrified. Suddenly a dog came running up to her and said, "Have no fear, dear Marya, it will be still worse, but you must go on and never look back."
Having said these words, the dog disappeared behind the bushes. The girl walked and walked, the forest grew darker and darker. Unknown things caught at her feet and sleeves. Marya kept on walking and never looked back. At last the third pair of iron shoes wore out, the third iron cap tore and the third iron walking sick broke. Suddenly the girl came to a clearing in the forest. In the middle of the clearing was a hut on chicken's legs, spinning around and around.
"Little hut, little hut, turn your back to the forest and your face to me. Let me come in to eat and warm myself." said Marya. The hut turned to her and she went inside. In the hut the girl saw Baba-Yaga the bony leg sleeping on the stove.
"Who are you and what do you want from me?" Baba-Yaga muttered.
"I am looking for Finist the Falcon. Please help me, Granny dear!"
"It will be difficult to find him, but don't worry, my dear one, I will help you," said Baba-Yaga. "Take this silver distaff and this golden spindle. If you hold the spindle in your hands, it will spin the finest gold thread all by itself. But remember--if the Tsaritsa wishes to buy the golden spindle don't sell it. Ask her to let you see Finist the Falcon."
The girl thanked Baba-Yaga and went on her way. It was terrifying to go through the forest. The trees were creaking, owls were hovering, beasts were growling and the wind whistled through the branches of the dense trees. Suddenly a gray wolf came running up to her. "Have no fear, Marya," said the wolf. "Climb on my back and try not to turn back!"
The girl climbed on the wolf's back and they rushed further and further. They passed wide steppes and meadows, climbed tall mountains and crossed flashing rivers. At last they reached a crystal palace with beautiful porch and lattice-carved windows. The Tsaritsa of the thrice-ninth kingdom was looking out of the window.
The wolf said: "Climb off my back and go to the palace and ask to be a servant girl."
The girl got off the wolf's back, thanked him and went into the palace. She bowed low to the Tsaritsa, and said, "I am looking for work. Please, let me work for you as a servant girl."
The Tsaritsa replied, "I have been searching for a servant girl for some time. I will employ you if you can spin, weave and embroider."
"I can do that very well," answered Marya. And so the girl became a servant girl. After a long hard day of work, she sat down and played with the silver plate and the golden egg and sang the song, "My golden egg, roll on the silver plate and let me see my true love Finist the Falcon!"
The egg rolled on the silver plate and the image of Finist the Falcon appeared on the bottom of the plate. The Tsaritsa happened to see her and immediately demanded that Marya sell her these rare treasures. Marya, remembering the advice of the three old women, replied, "I cannot sell them. But if you let me see Finist the Falcon this evening, I will give them to you as a gift."
The Tsaritsa thought for a while and agreed. "I will let you see him tonight after he has fallen asleep." she said.
Night came and the girl went to the bedroom of Finist the Falcon and started to call to him, "My darling, Finist the Falcon, wake up." She kissed and embraced him but everything was in vain, he didn't open his eyes.
All the next day Marya worked and in the evening she took out her silver frame and the golden needle, which embroidered by itself. She began to embroider a shirt for Finist the Falcon. The Tsaritsa accidentally saw the wonderful embroidery and asked the girl to sell her the silver frame and the golden needle. "These things are not for sale but you can have them for free if you let me see Finist the Falcon," Marya replied.
The Tsaritsa thought for a while and agreed to let the girl see Finist the Falcon but only at night when he was sleeping soundly. But Marya couldn't awake Finist the Falcon that night either. She kissed and embraced him and entreated him to awake, but again to no avail.
The next day the girl again set to work. Having fulfilled all her duties, she took out the silver distaff and the golden spindle. The Tsaritsa saw these treasures and begged her to sell them. Marya said that she was ready to make a present if the Tsaritsa allowed her to see Finist the Falcon once more.
The Tsaritsa thought to herself: "She won't be able to awaken him in any case." And agreed to let Marya see Finist the Falcon. Night came, and Marya went to the bedchamber of Finist the Falcon. He was sleeping as soundly as on the two previous nights.
The girl again desperately tried to awake Finist the Falcon but couldn't. The dawn drew near. At last she lost her patience and burst into tears. One burning tear fell on the check of Finist the Falcon. This time he felt her sorrow and opened his eyes. He recognized Marya immediately and took her in his arms, kissing her and showering her with endearments.
"Have you really worn out three pairs of iron shoes, torn three iron caps and broken three iron walking sticks in your search for me? Let's go home, my dearest one," said Finist the Falcon.
They made ready for the journey back to their kingdom but the Tsaritsa forced them to stay. She gathered the princes and boyars in the palace and accused Finist the Falcon of unfaithfulness. The princes and boyars began thinking how best to punish Finist the Falcon and Marya.
Suddenly Finist the Falcon asked the judges, "Please, let me ask you a question! Which is my true wife: she who betrayed me and was ready to trade me for a few trinkets, or the one who loved me so well that she asked for nothing but to see me?"
The princes and boyars decided that his true wife was Marya. And so Finist and Marya went back to their land. When they reached their kingdom a magnificent feast was held there on the occasion of their wedding. The two lived in joy and harmony the rest of their lives.